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SEAFORD RESIDENTS GROUP LAUNCHES PETITIONS TO PROTEST AGAINST DOWNS DEVELOPMENT

July 15th, 2019.

Downs Development Neighbourhood Voice release:


Concerned Seaford residents in East Sussex have formed a community group, Downs Development Neighbourhood Voice. The group is campaigning against the proposal by Lewes District Council to build a large-scale complex for retail, housing and medical services – all on public recreation grounds at the Downs Leisure Centre, and to move both GP surgeries out of Seaford town centre. At a time when the UK’s high streets are under serious threat, DDNV are worried hat the development will draw significant footfall away from Seaford’s thriving town centre. To highlight the many detrimental and unsustainable implications of the project, DDNV have launched both a paper petition being circulated in Seaford, and an online petition on https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-the-doctors-in-town-save-our-recreation-ground

With both petitions now totalling over 2,140 signatures, DDNV believe that LDC has misjudged the strength of feeling in the town about the development, which was announced out of the blue and without consultation of local residents. “Many residents have written to me expressing varying concerns about the proposal to build a health hub on a much-needed green space. By signing this petition, we, the people of Seaford will show Lewes District Council the strength of feeling in our town to get our voices heard,” says Sam Adeniji, Lewes District Councillor for Seaford South.

Despite the fact that the Downs Leisure Centre site was gifted to the people of Seaford in 1964, the outdoor recreation ground could be tarmacked over if the new development goes ahead. And worse still, the group warn that the Downs Leisure Centre and playing field are being failed by LDC’s core policies in the Seaford Neighbourhood Plan to protect, preserve and expand on local green spaces in Seaford.

Currently the playing field is shared by visitors to the town and residents of all ages. It’s also in constant use by many active community groups (including football and running clubs, as well as users of Wave Leisure centre). In addition, the 60+ club house and its dedicated, refurbished kitchen would be lost, with members forced to meet in the health hub.

The group do not believe that the loss of outdoor sports and recreation facilities equates with new opportunities for health and wellbeing. Instead, it reduces choice for local residents to keep physically and socially active, and also limits the scope for outdoor activity of the sports centre.

The group also highlight that the seizure of green recreational space to build a doctor’s surgery is unprecedented. No other council has proposed this before. An £18 million public works loan to finance an NHS project is also unprecedented. The petition states that it is not the council’s legal or core responsibility to finance GP business premises or NHS facilities. It also seeks an explanation for why the existing Dane Road site can’t be extended for the town’s primary health care needs. If health services are relocated to the outskirts of the town, what plans are there for the vacated premises owned by East Sussex Health Trust and NHS Property Services and unused or undeveloped land owned by Lewes District Council in the town centre?

DDNV believe this large-scale development will overload the site and that will have significant adverse effects on the environment by creating greater car dependency and pollution. All of these concerns indicate that the Downs site is not appropriate for development.